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Pitt Business Students Drive Race Team’s Business Operations
Pitt Business Students Drive Race Team's Operations

The University of Pittsburgh’s Indy Autonomous Challenge team includes four students from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business who are driving business operations. Their work includes corporate sponsorships, finance, marketing, operations, and recruiting for the MIT-PITT-RW autonomous racing team.

The next head-to-head driverless race against eight other teams of college students is Nov. 11, 2022, at the Texas Motor Speedway. Win or lose, Katz students Erin Kust (MBA ’23), Ammar Kinkhabwala (MBA ’23), Miriam Dukaye (MBA ’23), and Aaditi Patil (MS ’23) are proud of their team and accomplishments. Pitt Business has long emphasized the importance of learning by doing as students put into practice the theories discussed in class.

Taking the Lead

“Leading business operations, I’ve learned to manage a lot of functions at once,” said Kust, who is in the Part-time MBA program while she works as a strategy consulting manager at Elevance. “This experience has been very beneficial to my development as a future leader. I’ve learned how to quickly synthesize the complex issues we experience across all business areas and work with my team to set realistic goals and actions to get us where we need to be.”

Patil, who is in the Katz Master of Science in Marketing Science program, joined the team to focus on marketing. Her experience also includes an undergraduate degree in engineering.

“I want to work as a product manager in technology – bettering user experiences on e-commerce sites,” said Patil, who worked three years in e-commerce before coming to Katz.

MIT-PITT-RW is the student-led autonomous racing team composed of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pitt (including Katz and Swanson School of Engineering), Rochester Institute of Technology, and University of Waterloo (Canada).

Winning Experiences

“We see ourselves as a unique team because we are completely student-led and we rely on corporate sponsors to fund our operations since we are not attached to a research lab. This approach is intentional,” Kust said. “Other teams have a mix of graduate and PhD students. We have undergrad and graduate students because we want students of any background to have access to this experience. Winning is the goal for IAC competitions, and another primary goal as a team is to transform the trajectory of our students’ academic and industry careers.”

For more background, read this Pittsburgh Robotics Network article. Follow the team’s work via the MITT-PITT-RW social media accounts, including the LinkedIn account.